Commentary: The Terror Problem from Pakistan by Melissa Skorka & Rahmatullah Nabil

Commentary: The Terror Problem from Pakistan by Melissa Skorka & Rahmatullah Nabil

With the Trump administration considering how to break the stalemate between Taliban-allied groups and the government of Afghanistan, terrorists detonated a car bomb in Kabul on May 31, killing more than 150. Afghan intelligence blamed the violence on Haqqani, a terror network with close ties to the Taliban, al Qaeda and Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence...

'What would be the Ten Main Characteristics of a War between the United States and North Korea?' by Dr Rob Johnson

'What would be the Ten Main Characteristics of a War between the United States and North Korea?' by Dr Rob Johnson

What would be the Eight Main Characteristics of a War between the United States and North Korea?

A great deal of attention is currently focussed on the possibility of a conflict between the United States and North Korea, but what would be the character of a war between these powers if it actually broke out?  Recent conflicts and current military preparedness would only be a guide to the very early stages, and there are much more significant implications to consider. Here are ten possible characteristics for analysts to think through...

The First World War in the Middle East: 1911-1923. A Brief Report to the Globalising and Localising Great War Project

A conference was held at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Pembroke College of the University of Oxford between 20 and 22 April 2016, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Arab Revolt and a critical stage in the First World War. It was wonderful to be able to bring together a great diversity of scholars from several nationalities and disciplinary specialisms, including cultural history, literature, Russianists, Arabists, and military history. If we needed any reminder that the First World War was a global war, then the range of papers and the cohering theme of the Middle East in the context of the conflict underscored it admirably. Resonances with the present also appeared throughout the conference. At a time when commentators talk of an era of perpetual war, especially with regard to the Middle East, our group of scholars set out to explore the period 1911-1923 and in doing so challenge and test the assertion that the conflicts of the present are the inherited legacies of the First World War.

The New Biafrans: Discussing Discontent

On March 8, 2016, Olly Owen’s public lecture for Changing Character of War (CCW) of drew unexpected attention. Owen, an anthropologist with Oxford’s Department of International Development, intended his discussion, The New Biafrans: Historical Imagination and Structure Conflict in Nigeria’s Separatist Revival, to be an exploration of history, memory, economics and politics in Nigeria’s southeast. The hope, Owen told CCW, was to prompt further investigation into the roots of the Nigerian independence movement, which has waxed and waned since the 1960s. 

Violent Non-State Actors and Complementary Governance: What ISIS, Hizballah and FARC Have in Common

In the absence of a strong state, insurgents, traffickers or tribal warlords may provide political and socioeconomic goods through arrangements we characterize as ‘complementary governance.’ When formulating an effective response to this security challenge, policymakers and researchers must account for the complex connections and interactions between multiple non-state governing entities.

In Conversation with Elizabeth Joyce

Elizabeth Joyce is the Chief of Section, United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee. She has worked for the UN since 1999, where she started as a Money Laundering Advisor to the UNODC. From there she moved into counter-terrorism via her work on countering terrorist financing. Her talk was mostly concerned with the evolution of the UN’s role in countering terrorism, beginning in the 1990s and the reaction to the 1998 US Embassy Bombings and going up until the modern day. Her focus was technical, describing the UN’s expanding role via pieces of core legislation, as well as outlining the role and activities of the Counter-Terrorism Committee. This CCW interview expands on that latter point, attempting to understand the specifics of the Committee’s activity and how counter-terrorism functions on the global level.

In Conversation with Rob Wainwright

Rob Wainwright has been the Director of Europol since 2009. Prior to joining Europol, Wainwright worked with a number of national agencies in the UK including MI5, where he specifically focused on issues of terrorism. Wainwright’s presentation, just weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris by suspected Islamic State extremists, touched on the organizational roles and responsibilities of Europol, particularly relating to counterterrorism; the fluid and fluctuating nature of the international terrorist threat; and the troubling (or confounding) issues relating to terrorist and criminal organizations’ use of the “dark web.” This CCW interview expands on these central themes. 

In Conversation with Kai Htang Lashi

Kai Htang Lashi is the foreign affairs spokesperson for the Kachin National Organisation (KNO), an organisation established to be the Kachin people’s international representation. Her presentation spanned a wide range of subjects relating to the armed struggle for greater autonomy from Burma and ethnic minority rights conducted by the Kachin Independence Organisation/Army. Topics covered both the history of the conflict and modern concerns, such as the KIO/A’s refusal to participate in the October 2015 ceasefire. They spanned many issues, such as the relationship between the KIO/A and Kachin society, the relationships between the KIO/A and other ethnonationalist insurgent movements in Burma, and the difficulties of promoting the Kachin cause abroad. Given Kai Htang Lashi’s role as one of the chief conduits of knowledge on life in Kachin state, CCW delves into what that life is like and what being Kachin means.

The Maritime Dimension of Britain's New Strategy

The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), presented by Prime Minister David Cameron to the British Parliament on Monday, signifies a welcome return to strategic maritime thought by the government of the United Kingdom. The new strategic document seeks to align ends, ways, and means while also considering risks identified in the National Security Risk assessment. It charts a clear course to develop credible carrier strike capability, improve anti-submarine warfare capability, and continue to provide a credible nuclear deterrent. Although it has some shortfalls, this shift signals the United Kingdom’s intent to reclaim a position of global naval leadership and will undoubtedly present new opportunities for enhanced U.S.-U.K. bilateral cooperation.

The Importance of Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is important. In the 1980s, despite an existential threat to the United Kingdom of greater magnitude than at any previous moment in its long history, this country navigated and concluded successfully the Cold War and managed the changes that were wrought to international relations thereafter. In the 1990s, Britain’s strategic success continued as it embraced the rehabilitation of two pariah states of the Cold War era, namely Russia and the People’s Republic of China. Moreover, Britain participated in the defeat of the naked aggression of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1990-91, bolstering the hopes for a new world order based on global co-operation. Yet, in the early 2000s, a string of errors based on faulty assumptions, and an absence of strategy, became manifest in the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We had apparently forgotten how to think strategically.

Megateo, the armed groups and the future of the people of Colombia’s Catatumbo

Megateo was one of the most wanted drug traffickers in Colombia. His death on October 2, 2015 was a major blow, but the people of Catatumbo have little reason to celebrate.

Colombia’s deal with the FARC could bring peace – or create a power vacuum

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londoño – alias Timochenko, the leader of Latin America’s longest-running insurgency, the FARC – have signed a historic deal which sets out a process of transitional justice for Colombia. They have committed to signing the final peace agreement within six months.

After more than five decades of armed conflict, six months is the blink of an eye, and both Colombia and the wider world must think fast to work out what comes next.